LJMU call on the knowledge and experiences of ASFA students

Students from The Academy of St Francis of Assisi (ASFA), whose first language isn’t English, have helped student teachers from Liverpool John Moores University with their teacher training in how to support other EAL (English as an additional language) pupils.

Sue Walker, who is a senior lecturer on the PGCE course at the university, first contacted the academy three years ago to see if they would be interested in speaking with trainee teachers at LJMU’s annual EAL Day.  

Since then, language acquisition co-ordinator at The Academy of St Francis of Assisi, Amanda Gamble, has brought a different group of EAL students to help the university each year.

The Kensington school has a large number of EAL students. Many have never had a formal education before, some arrive not being able to speak to English and others are learning English as a third, and even fourth, language.

The eager group took part in a carousel activity with over 25 LJMU students and talked about their experiences when they first came here, how they coped, how they were supported in the classroom and what they personally feel works best.

Amanda said: “Our partnership with LJMU is mutually beneficial in so many ways. Our students can draw upon their own personal experiences and help the trainee teachers learn more about EAL pupils in schools. The day also allows our group to build their confidence when speaking to new people and, hopefully, they feel proud to be shaping the future of teaching.

“As you can imagine, it might seem daunting to be put in the spotlight and to talk to a large group of adults at once, but our students are amazing and speak so eloquently about their experiences in education, here and in their home countries.”  

The Academy of St Francis of Assisi is extremely proud of its vibrant community and over 40 languages are spoken in the school. In 2019, students from different year groups were selected to become Language Ambassadors in order to support fellow EAL students with reading, writing and speaking English. Amanda added:

“Some of the students who attended on Monday have been made Language Ambassadors now they are in Year 11, but all are an absolute credit to our school. I am extremely proud of them and grateful for their time. Last year, because of lockdown, we had to do the sessions virtually and they came in twice to support this. This year they forewent an extra lie-in because it was an INSET Day!”

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